Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

If it’s not a Pagerank 4 or higher, it’s worthless.

You’d be suprised at some of the answers I get to questions I post on the contact form.

A few days ago one guy asked me how many links we can get in an hour….needless to say, what he was seeking, we’re not selling.

Yesterday someone filled our our form stating that he was seeking hundreds of "quality relevant links" but they needed to be at least all from "PageRank 4 or higher pages". Since it’s being reported that Google’s updating their Green Fairy Dust today, it looks like a good day to dispel some Pagerank Myths.

I’m kind of suprised at how many people are still stuck in some SEO technique timewarp of what was effective in 1999. For those of you who weren’t into SEO in the 90’s, I’ll give you a brief story of why there’s the thought that links from PR4 or higher pages are ones that "count".

Traveling back to the 90’s and early 2000’s….back when there were these monthy Google Dances. Back then, about once a month, there’d be a big shuffle in rankings….and those rankings would stay pretty stable for the month, until the next dance day. On the Google Dance day, not only would rankings shift, but so too would the Google Toolbar. Pagerank would update accross the board, and the backlinks numbers would also change….and they were mostly accurate except for 1 thing.

The one inaccuracy was that Google would only show backlinks that came from pages that were at least a Pagerank 4 or higher (so we’d all work to get our links pages to at least a PR4 so people would trade with us…hehe, silly us).  Our misguided thought back then was that links from pages that were below a Pagerank 4 must be worthless since Google didn’t show those….the toolbar fairydust SEO manipulation had already started back then….but most of us just didn’t know it. (Meaning I’m sure that links from PR0 – 3 were counting….we just didn’t know it (I’m guilty)).

Now, in 2007 rankings change daily, Pagerank updates about every 3-6 months…and is based on a score calculated 3-6 months prior to the updating day….saying that Pagerank is Stale is an understatement….also saying that pagerank effects rankings is a lie.

One of my link team Ninjas was showing me an email they got back from someone stating something to the effect of:

"I can tell that you don’t know about SEO, so let me give you some lessons.  The page you’re requesting an ad on doesn’t have Pagerank yet, so there’s no value. I can put your ad on our links page that is a Pagerank 4 since there’s much more value there."

our response was something like:

"I’m not sure what pagerank is, but the page I requested is really the one we’d really like the ad on. We think visitors to that page will find this ad relevant and will click through to this advertisor…. (and then we proceeded to get this ad for a "Ninja steal").

Pagerank 0… SO WHAT I say! Our ninjas don’t look at Pagerank….we’re not puppets on Google’s Pagerank Strings.

This particular page was about 2 months old….it wasn’t showing fairy dust (pagerank) yet….but it had a cache from the day prior and it had around 50 backlinks from other sites to that exact page. It was a quality page, it was relevant to our client, and our ad should get some clicks as well…. the fact that it was a pagerank 0 doesn’t mean squat to me.

Does it mean anything to you?


52 Responses

  1. You make some great points. A few things seem off, though – but they might just be mis-interpretations by me.

    “Now, in 2007 rankings change daily, Pagerank updates about every 3-6 months”

    Not true. PageRank changes daily as well. TOOLBAR PageRank only updates every 3-6 months, but the actual PR that Google uses is updated constantly.

    That also is relevant to your comments with your Ninjas at the end. The page that was showing a PR of 0 wasn’t actually a PR0 page. As you said, it was listed and had 50 backlinks, so it had some PR that is was passing – the outdated toolbar simply didn’t show it yet.

    While PR in and of itself is becoming less important in the serps, it’s still a good indication of the value of a link. If you get a link from a page that is a PR7, and it’s in your niche and it’s not surrounded by gambling ads, that link will probably get your site to rank higher for some phrases. The high PR indicates that the link probably will be passing some good “trust” and other useful magic like that, so even if you don’t think the PR alone will help, you’ll get some other benefits that you might not be aware of.

  2. “Pagerank updates about every 3-6 months”

    Nope, TBPR updates every 3+ months. PageRank updates daily.

    Chasing PageRank to improving ranking is silly though. That’s like studying in school to get A’s instead of studying to learn.

  3. Jim, Baby, come on. You gotta stop telling people these things. How else am I to as you say “Ninja Steal” these links from people. 😉

    You know, at times all the mis-information on the web pisses me off. Other times I thank the heavens as it ensures my future income.

  4. Hey Jim,

    Awesome post as always, you have a knack for cutting through the FUD 😉 Our ninja team has moved on to other metrics besides Google PageRank, taking into account age/authority, number of backlinks/page, topical relevance, all that good stuff.

    There’s really a lot of factors that contribute to a page’s Google rank. My question is, since our ninjas are paid based on the “quality” of each page they get links from, what’s a trustworthy metric to use? It would be nice to have a reliable number when we’re determining the value of a link, instead of the traditional method of saying “ok, link ninja #21, you get paid five bucks for each PR0, ten bucks for a PR1, 20 bucks for a PR3…”

    We do have a “secret” metric we use internally, but I was hoping to get your opinion as an SEO sensei…

  5. “….also saying that pagerank effects rankings is a lie”

    The post was great but that bit made it for me. You would not believe the amount of people I deal with (SEO’s and clients) who just cannot get it out of their head that it is at least ‘a good indication of quality and rankings’… I normally proceed by hitting my head against a brick wall for several minutes.

    I have PR7 pages that don’t feature anywhere for their target terms and PR1 pages that rank top for their (sometimes equally as competitive) target terms.

    I was slightly concerned when I saw the title of your post, had a bit of a ‘Oh no not you as well…’ thought!!

    i can’t believe that people still buy and sell links based solely on PR, completely agree with Mad4 that DP is one of the worst places for being stuck in such a warp…

  6. Some people never update their tactics and some people just like the easy route, you can see an easily quantified number for a page just by loading up a little app with your browser… getting backlink information and gaging real value takes a little more effort.

  7. Mikey,

    your comments are totally correct “Not true. PageRank changes daily as well. TOOLBAR PageRank only updates every 3-6 months, but the actual PR that Google uses is updated constantly.”

  8. Have you been able to measure positive gains from this strategy as opposed to seeking high pr links? I like this strategy, but it seems like it is harder to show the value you are creating. How do you present this to clients?

  9. How so true… But people still are willing topay a premium for a high page ranked page in buying text links… so PR is still nice to have

  10. Very true, but at this point I think your sentiments are actually overly-expressed on most forums. I understand the frustration, but a lot of more experienced SEOs seem to get so distracted by the unimportance of, and overemphasis on, PR that they forget that there may be other reasons for looking for high PR links (e.g. if you’re going to be selling text link ads, even today, high PR can carry a high(er) price tag).

    Anyway like I said before I agree with you totally, but I’ve gotten to the point of “reverse-frustration” over at DP where someone might most a request for high PR links and instantly be swarmed by 10 “PR DOESN’T MATTER, STUPID!” replies :). We know it doesn’t matter (or is nearly insignificant) for rankings, however until a PR5 text link stops selling for more than a PR4, and a PR6 stops selling for more than a PR5, etc., I will continue to enjoy updates that give my text-link-selling sites high PR. 🙂 I’ll end by reiterating that “of course you’re right” with regard to SEO but keep in mind that some people are looking for those high PR links for other reasons :).

    PS: Although I’ve only commented here under a different handle in the past (Kris Kibak I believe), I follow your blog daily and really, really love when you cover less-discussed topics like co-citation, etc. Your insight on the subject(s) is fun and usually some of the most thought-provoking stuff I read. Great blog!

  11. “it looks like a good day to dispel some Pagerank Myths.”

    I hear the choir singing a different, albeit all-too-familiar tune, but I’ll drop a few relevant links of mine as counter arguments to your post:

    “PageRank doesn’t matter is now an official SEO Myth”

    “Why Google will not move away from PageRank”

  12. I think even if it is just for the sake of rankings Page rank still plays an important role in people’s thinking and everyone wants to get a link from high PR sites.I f you don’t believe it then go to any forum and in the link exchange section start a thread saying you have PR8 site and are open for link exchange and see the mad response.

  13. Great post and I agree with it mostly in so much as there are many more important things to concentrate on in seo. However I can’t agree with “Pagerank updates about every 3-6 months…and is based on a score calculated 3-6 months prior”.

    I have a page that I published last month that is getting some nice green fairy dust on this current update.

  14. Halfdeck – I liked your articles, and you make some very good points.
    But I think the pagerank you’re talking about is the “real” pagerank….but I’d point out that accuracy of what they show you in the toolbar is:
    1. Stale
    2. not a real number they use for ranking purposes.
    I believe they have numbers that they show us (Toolbar PR), is not a number they use for ranking purposes.
    ….I’d also guess that any numbers they’re really using is now a distant variation of what was once the Pagerank of which they spoke of in thier original patent “The Anatomy of a Large Scale Search Engine”.

    I’ll add that I also don’t believe that Pagerank (in the toolbar sense) doesn’t play any role in what goes into the supplimental results.

    I’ll drop in a tidbit of advice of something I’ve found several time…but has yet to be reported (from what I’ve seen)…perhaps this might be a reason for the supplimental hell people have been seeing going on…

    Jim notes an important point that he’s seen….maybe it’s something, maybe not…up to you to decide…Here goes:
    If you create a new folder on a site…and in that folder you dump 50+ new pages…and if after ~3 months none of those new pages in that folder have received a external backlink, I’ve seen google supplimental the entire folder…it takes about 3 months, but a lesson I’ve learned is: if you create a bunch of new pages in a short amount of time, and none of those new pages get external backlinks to them within 3 months, all those pages can go to hell (Google Supplimental results).

    Did I just get off on a tangent…sorry..

  15. “Matt Cutts assigns actual pagerank value.” lmao…

    A while back, I wrote a script that spiders sites and calculates pagerank, using the original PageRank formula. It’s not all that complicated. Of course, with Google developing ways to devalue unworthy links, the algo is already alot more complicated than just straight-forward number-crunching.

  16. Jim, I agree on everything you have said up until the point you say – “2. not a real number they use for ranking purposes.
    I believe they have numbers that they show us (Toolbar PR), is not a number they use for ranking purposes.
    ….I’d also guess that any numbers they’re really using is now a distant variation of what was once the Pagerank of which they spoke of in thier original patent “The Anatomy of a Large Scale Search Engine”.”

    IMO the Pagerank displayed on the toolbar is calculated reasonably closely to the original pagerank formula published all those years ago. Now maybe what links count and the weighting of links is now non-constant (eg footer link worth less than a content link) but the essential parts of the formula remain the same.

    I also believe the fresh PR number is a direct factor in ranking but the weighting has been greatly reduced over the years. Even if you believe this weighting is now zero, PR is definately used in the algorithms to calculate other factors which are used for ranking.

  17. This is a great post. I just came across it in the SERPs, what do you know… PR zero, how ever did i find it?

    The subject reminds me of an IPO on the stock market. Savvy link buyers like savvy stock brokers know how to determine an investment that will jump. Once the fairy dust settles, a PR0 site will jump to a PR3 or 4 or higher will sell for $50 or more, but you bought it at $5 when it was a PR0.

    on the other hand it still sucks if you’re selling links, because the almighty pagerank bar still governs demand over price, regardless of other factors.

  18. Yeh things aren’t always as they seem.

    Looking at the backlinks a page can be a far better indicator of the SEO quality of a page.

    Also its ranking in google for actual search terms (this really isn’t rocket science – I checked – my fiancee used to be a rocket scientist).

    Of course when you’re looking at backlinks from older pages it can be handy to know what their google page ranks are.

    The bottom line is if it takes 3-4 months for Google to asign page rank then you’re must take other factors into account when you analyse a page.

    I’ve had pages that have gone to number 1 or 2 in google for search terms within 48 hours of putting them up.

    No page ranks for months but if you were looking for links in these niches you’d be an idiot not to want them from those pages.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  19. I used to do link swaps all the time. Because I’m such a nice caring guy, I would place your link on it’s own page, rather than on links76.htm with 500 other sites.
    Because I created a new page for your link, this new page would always be a PR0.

    Some people just could not understand the concept of “a new page on a good site” being a good thing. Constantly I would get shitty link exchange partners moaning that they gave me a PR4 and I gave them a PR0.

    I tried reasoning with them originally, but it doesn’t help.

  20. I want to come back to Bob Sheth comment:

    “I have a page that I published last month that is getting some nice green fairy dust on this current update.”

    I made the same experience. Can it be that the page rank assignment for new sites is outside the regular cylce?

  21. Very interesting article, I came to this site trying to figure out why my sites say NA when I check the page rank. Is this a common problem around update time, or is something wrong with my site. I just starting using a 301 redirect with php to open the blog and that is when I noticed this problem.

  22. Interestingly enough Bob and Hannes, I saw one of my sites jump from a PR 2 to a strong PR 3 (i.e. across much of the site) in mid-cycle. It was a previously neglected and quite young domain.

  23. Stop giving away all the secretes! Just kidding. The next you know, everyone will be going after the “undervalued” pages that haven’t had pagerank fairy dust yet, and then we’ll see these new whizbang predictor tools (there are some out already). Google did a great job showing pagerank toolbar values from the *past*. It gets everyone thinking and optimizing but with past (often incomplete) information. It allows Google to stay ahead of the spammers and abusers and in the end is just brilliant.

  24. I had no clue about this! Dang, here was I only submitting my articles to article directories with high pagerank. I suppose seeing how it ranks in alexa may be a better marker? So, to clarify, pagerank means nothing? Nothing relevant to the present, that is?

  25. To tell you what I think…. I don’t even know what is and what isn’t PR. Also, don’t know if it’s still relevant or if it will be relevant. I would expect Google to issue some notes on this, because, after all, it’s something they implemented.

  26. A Great post here, with some extremely valid points. Personally i try not to think to much about page rank, as long as you have a great client base with a steady flow of traffic which return to your website is enough to build on the age, trust & in the end word of mouth about your website will make it grow in time.

  27. ya people really confused about PR. there is so many opinions on this issues. but i think PR and search engine ranking are two different thing. SERP rank is related to ranking for specific keyword phrase whereas PR is the overall strength of the page.
    i also think ‘real PR’ are not the same as with PR on toolbar. but guess what it is kind of fun when we all have differences on our opinion. it makes us always on the alert and try to stay ahead of others. it is a challenge and challenge let us feel alive.

  28. Sorry, this is years after you posted (I’m totally out of date) but I found this while I was looking for something entirely different, and wanted to chip in…

    I don’t feel the Toolbar PageRank has any use other than to suggest how many inbound links a site has, and its potential value. E.g. when looking at a new site.

    I have started sites off, which are well designed and optimized, but avoid many spammy techniques that are employed by many. These pages have a rank of 0 – absolute zero too as they have no inlinks at the start – which can get onto the first page of results within google. How? Simple, by writing great, entirely unique content.

    Does Google have some way of determining whether what you have written in the body of your site will be of value to readers? I’d say unequivocally yes! They do, even if only very basically, know what is unique, quality content.

    The future of SERPS is generating absolute unique content that is of high value to readers. So simple really. Write the best piece of information on a given subject, and you will rank highly for it. That is the primary focus of all Google (et al)’s efforts – getting the best stuff to the top.

    The best way to get to the top? Write the best stuff. Period.

  29. Hi Jim, well for ranking in SERPs Google is considering some main things for websites like content, PR, links etc., so PR is absolutely needed for a website, no matter what ever the PR of website is, it is considered for ranking.

  30. i have been learning about seo for quite something now. and during this learning phase i’ve getting a lot of conflicting opinions on seo and PR. so i guess they only speculate things based on their research and test opinions and not what google algorithms actually do because google never disclosed their algo only some advice on issues. and your post make my believe even stronger. so to me if i know something related to seo from my experience and the seo expert don’t agree i won’t bother to make them understand because i still might be right and they are wrong.

  31. PR plays a important role in SERP….Higher the PR, better is the site.
    But our main aim is to improve our business by improving traffic.
    But when a visitor comes to our site the first impression he gets about our site form its Page
    rank of the home page.
    most probably people dont like to visit the website which has pr4 or below

  32. PR is definitely not the only thing to consider when looking at a certain webpage. The content and the context are much more relevant than the PR. The better the context, the better the result!

  33. PR is definitely not the only thing to consider when looking at a certain webpage. The content and the context are much more relevant than the PR. The better the context, the better the result!

  34. Google should take away their Page Rank crap or replace something else. That will turn SEO industry upside down and shuffle.
    For those link selling for money become useless. How nice is that

  35. This comes really late from the date of the original post, but I find strange that nobody elaborated on the sometimes huge differences between the Alexa rank and the Google Pagerank.

    Let me provide an example from websites that have been online since about 1996. They are the three most popular commercial air TV channels in Uruguay (South America), the first one with a .com domain name and the rest with country-level domain names, have these ranks and backlinks in Google:

    Channel 12: PR=5, AR=75,058, GBL=413.
    Channel 04: PR=6, AR=204,763; GBL=57.
    Channel 10: PR=5, AR=147,387, GBL=62.

    The numbers support that the amount of backlinks is directly proportional to the popularity of a website, but the curious thing is that the Alexa rank, not Google’s, seem to better represent that. For optimum search engine optimization tracking I do register these and other factors, but it seems amazing to have such a big difference in Alexa not showing up in Google.

  36. Yeah it’s important not to get bogged down with Page Rank, but I’d say it’s also true that any site that’s integrated into it’s link community is likely to have page rank. So if a site doesn’t, it’s certainly a warning flag, and reasonable to question the value of working for a link from said site.

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